Photo Hugues Siegenthaler

NCCR LIVES to meet the policy makers and the civil society

The National Center of Competence in Research LIVES aims, among other things, to promote the development of innovative socio-political measures. That is why the Social Policy Group was launched, bringing together five experts. One of its missions is to propose events and activities of knowledge transfer to policy makers and practitioners of social policy.

So-called hard sciences can lead to tangible advances in technology, but what about the humanities, where discoveries are less often patented and allow few marketable results? "Knowledge transfer is difficult to implement in the field of social policy, because decisions depend more on the political balance than on results of scientific research," says Professor Jean-Pierre Tabin, who teaches at the Haute Ecole de Travail Social et de la Santé – ESSP, is a researcher in LIVES IP5 and member of the Social Policy Group created by LIVES in early 2012.

He cites for example the recent decision of the Swiss National Council to once again harden the federal law on asylum, despite numerous studies which have shown that the precariousness of migrants has deleterious effects.

New public seminar on poverty

However, the scientific world is not ignored by policymakers. The Department of Health and Social Welfare of the Canton of Vaud will thus hold a new seminar in Autumn 2012 entitled "Poverty: individual trajectories, social logics", in collaboration with the NCCR LIVES and other academic partners. This comes two years after a first issue that had a great echo and whose proceedings were published this Spring. During the next event to be held on 11 and 12 October, a dozen researchers of LIVES, including several members of the Social Policy Group, will participate alongside the famous French sociologist Serge Paugam, director of studies at the French Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and Research Director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

Other examples of NCCR LIVES intervening in the public arena are numerous: participation in panel discussions, research mandates on behalf of institutions and associations on topics associated with the vulnerability, response to media inquiries on social themes (see the press review).

Suggest new tracks

According to Dario Spini, Director of the NCCR LIVES, knowledge transfer in terms of social policy will build up over the coming years, in collaboration with associations and civil society: "Our job is not to make policy, but to ask questions, give our opinion, share information, resulting from research and validated empirical facts that are not sufficiently known and spread. For example, if we see that divorce is a cause of poverty in single parent families and for women in particular, what are the answers? There is the welfare system, of course, but one could perhaps suggest other things. Few people tell those mothers that if it is legitimate to stop working, they would do well to continue learning; otherwise they may suffer from vulnerability later on in their life course, through a legitimate private choice. "

Conclusion: political and economic circles could have an interest in getting inspiration from those who study the evolution of society. LIVES research could even give ideas for new markets. Why not imagine mandatory training for housewives?

From private to public spheres

For the distinction between the public and private spheres is socially formatted, in the opinion of the LIVES Director: "With the moralization of the smoking issue, politics interfere nowadays in an issue previously considered as very personal. And if we let the people choose, it is not certain that they would decide on their own to limit their driving to 75 miles per hour..."